Dysphagia is difficulty or discomfort swallowing. It is estimated in the U.S. that 15 million people have dysphagia, and that dysphagia is underdiagnosed. Many people who are affected by the disorder include 75% of stroke survivors, 90% of patients with progressive neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and MS. Also, patients with head and neck cancer, brain injury, and the elderly can be affected.
"VitalStim therapy SAVED MY LIFE. I had a stroke in October 2002 and was having a very difficult time recovering my ability to swallow. I had gone through several doctors, therapists and types of therapy; it was very evident that I was not improving. This medical condition of mine landed me in 9 different hospitals in the last three years. One day while watching WTAE news, I saw a clip on VitalStim being done by Denise Dougherty and the rest is history. After living with a feeding tube for 18 months, VitalStim therapy had me swallowing within 2 months. I was able to shed myself of the feeding tube and today I swallow any type of food. Denise has a very special quality in dealing with the differences in ages and also the variety of swallowing problems. VitalStim was the tool she used but it took Denise to make sure that it was used properly."
--Ed F., Former Patient
"My son Sean was referred by his Oral Motor therapist to Denise Dougherty for Vital Stim therapy. Sean is a beautiful three year old boy who has cerebral palsy and associated challenges with his eating and swallowing. Although the office is a six hour drive from our home, we decided to make the trip after corresponding with Denise on the phone and e-mail. We were encouraged by the results Vital Stim has produced with other children, and we were also reassured by Denise’s professionalism and helpfulness with our many questions.
We are thrilled that we made the decision to work with Denise - our hopes for Sean’s progress were greatly exceeded! Sean’s swallowing became more coordinated, allowing him to eat more easily and also handle his saliva more efficiently. In addition, we noticed that his tongue thrust was diminished. Lastly, Sean’s use of his lips and tongue while eating improved noticeably.
Denise is an instructor for Vital Stim certification, and she is one of the leading providers of VitalStim in the country. Because of her extensive training and expertise in many areas of Speech Therapy, Denise was also able to employ other techniques that helped Sean make progress. In addition to being a consummate professional, Denise was caring and compassionate towards our whole family. She was not just treating a patient when she worked with Sean – Denise was helping a little boy make valuable gains in a gentle, caring way. "
--Mother of Patient
To learn more about VitalStim Therapy for the treatment of Dysphagia, visit http://www.vitalstimtherapy.com/aboutvs.asp.